Time Management for busy people.

February 2, 2007 at 10:37 PM · I need some help creating a self-study program for myself. I only get 'about' one lesson a month from someone really good, and don't want to waste her time on this.

My program has evolved to the point where I need to work-in what follows, as well as expand into what follows that. Also, I've reached a point where there is simply no way, I can give everything the attention I'd like, so something's going to have to give. I talk about splitting my program, but haven't been too successful with that yet, so I'm looking at like maybe doing certain things on alternating days.

This is what I'm currently doing:

17 basic elements, 3 min. each a day; having just added Sautille, and wanting to do Sieb's Loure; as well as peaking around the corner at Ricochet.

Wohlfahrt--a couple passes through a couple etudes a day--I'd like to do more but time..... And I'm adding another etude, so this is really going to get hairy.

About ten songs from Suzuki, standards like "The Shadow of Your Smile", and a Bach Sarabande I'm adapting from guitar to violin, and God only knows where else--I'll be watching TV and run for the violin to jam along..

Scales in two octaves.

Free style for my aged (but not prunish--who loves ya Burrriii!) soul.

The problem is that I am ready to increase my element studies in relation to double-stops, want to start doing appregios and working towards scales in 3 octaves. Previously my left hand was holding me back, but through intensive work is showing it is ready to move forward (lots of alternating speed trills and Wohlfahrt no2 did the trick--and ''''time'''').

Anyway, when one gets to this level, and without neglecting basic elements--which I 'truly' need, what might be some solutions to this time-management question?

Plus, I'm getting ready to become really busy in my gardens--hugely busy, so I'm not going to have the leisure of hibernating for four and five hours with my violin. I'd like to keep it between 2.5-3 hours--(like I'd really do that when the spirit hits me ;)).... Anyway...

Replies (27)

February 2, 2007 at 06:37 AM · p.s. Please help me give this some thought.

February 2, 2007 at 11:25 PM · Summer is coming on for you already? Here in the Boston area winter has finally arrived and I don't think it's going away any time soon :(

February 3, 2007 at 12:18 AM · Mr. Al, why can't your teacher help you with your practicing plan? I spend a lot of time with my adult and busy teen students discussing time-management strategies. Surely she would be glad to help you?

P.S. What's in the garden?

February 3, 2007 at 01:39 AM · Shoot--I've got plants started all over the place, and am getting ready to start plowing next week for early crops and potatoes. I love Boston Karen--it's one of my favorites cities.

Everything Anne--I grow everything. From all kinds of berries to peaches, apples, plums, to all 'traditional' garden crops, to aspargus, celery, garlic collections from around the world, to fall crops (want turnips?)...

But spring - middle June is my big push, because I have big strawberry patches that are 'a lot' of work, and the cherries hit at the same time, along with everything else that I'm pushing along, like the corn and different kinds of beans.

And flowers, lots of flowers: roses, various beds of annuals: iris, lillies, etc.

Anyway, when your students start adding other things, where are the compromises?

February 3, 2007 at 03:01 AM · I trick I do is to work in practice while doing other household chores: 30 minute cycles while laudry is going, 30-45 minutes while baking something for dinner. Maybe you would work in "breaks" while gardening (15 minutes here and there). It is amazing how much extra practice time you can find!

February 3, 2007 at 03:56 AM · Thanks Mendy, I do that sometimes, but gardens are pretty intensive sweaty hot work, so I just don't see that happening. During like Nov-now, I started breaking it up like that, but found myself a little frazzled by the changes of context. I'd like have good practices in the morning, then just spin my wheels at night for example.

February 3, 2007 at 04:28 AM · Hey Al,

I know how garden can suck the life out of you and it's absolutely delicious:^) Can you cut down some labor-intense plants? To look after both flower garden and veggie&fruits is a LOT of work, especially with the annuals and corns. Roses are great, especially the old roses and the climbing ones. I love lilies too and they take care themselves. I’d keep a lot of non-fussy perennials and unkillable herbs. I plant climbing beans so that they grow big and last on the vine longer than the bushy ones. Do you have a good water system? I love to hand-water everything but now I can’t afford the time so a semi-auto watering system is a big help.

With practice, planning amount of time each day is not enough, you’ve got to carve out the specific time in each day as well. For instance, try to put a schedule in your calendar something like this: 20 minutes before breakfast, 15 minutes before gardening, ½ hour after dinner, etc. Make this as much of a routine as you can so that you won’t let yourself be carried away too much with the gardening, which I find hard to stop once I start it.

Also, if you only visit your teacher once a month, do you tape your lesson? It might be good to do this so of you haven’t so that you can listen to the recorded lessons again and again when you are working in your garden. You’ll be amazed how much extra you can get out of these lessons.

February 3, 2007 at 04:45 AM · I've been trimming the labor intensive stuff over the past few years... Now I only maintain a dozen roses rather than two, gave literally 'thousands and thousands' of irises away keeping some of the best, got rid of the hostas. I also started canning directly to the table instead of 200 quarts of beans, I do 75, and also can new potatoes, ragu, mixed veggies for roasts and so forth, to create time in other ways.

I won't be planting pole beans this year because we canned a bunch last year, and with all the new things I added (freezer jams, new potatoes, mixed veggies etc) we neglected our beans in the pantry--so there's a labor intensive thing saved. But I'm planting baby limas instead-still, not so labor intenive--love those bush beans!.

I just redid all the irises this past year, but still have about 5k siberians to get rid of. I started bringing them back to life as I inherited them from a granny's garden and now literally have them planted all over the state.

Soooo--I live with my obsession, but have made improvments over time. Last summer though, I started resenting my time, as I was playing all night, and working all day--and grabbing a nap after supper to keep from dropping. And now, I'm at a move forward point in just a lot of things, and my brain is in overdrive trying to figure out how I'm going to do it.

I did just look at my elements and came up with the idea of combining things--which I already do to some extent. Like working on detache, focused finger dropping and bow changes at the same time--that would help a little. But things like double-stops, upbow staccato just take individual focused time--no way around that. But the real issue is I'm ready to move on with like more intense double-stop work, more intense scales in 3o's, and still have to get all the basics in too--not to mention more formal shifting work.

So, I'm also also thinking about just working on 2 Suzuki pieces a night--I'm burned out on some of them anyway to be honest, and one from my other standards. That may help a little too. But for me, routine is not security, it is necessity because I'm filling in a mighty broad and big picture and do not intend to leisurely addle away 30 minutes a night for years... If I wanted to do that I'd just improve piano or guitar.

February 3, 2007 at 05:14 AM · Al,

Are you feeding an army or are you selling your food? And canning? Why? They dont' taste nearly as good as the frozen ones and so time consuming!:) wow, I thought I was crazy for growing organic veggies and flowers with a full time job plus violin plus making one of a kind clothes! Isn't time a funny thing? The less time you have the more productive you can get. Yes, this sounds paradoxical but I'm sure you know what I mean.

February 3, 2007 at 05:41 AM · No not an army, it's just an intensive interest in sustainability I have--and yes, I manage my own garden water from roof tops referring to an earlier question.

You would have to taste my canning before you jumped to that conclusion I think--I do freeze alot of corn though--you're right--it tastes better. But I got the bright idea last year to go ahead with the new potatoes and mixed veggies, and they are amazing--and so convenient--pop a couple quarts, and there's the potatoe salad--and the flavor.... I'm doubling the potato crop this year.

I come from a very very large family, and we have always known how to take care of ourselves in basic ways, and I over the past 10 years or so started revisiting alot of things that were slipping away because of just many things. I also run back up for my mom and dad who aren't really all that well, so alot of this is just for them. I'd still do some of it for me--the basics, but they are in hog's heaven when I bring that strawberry and peach blush freezer jam in--it's a psychological wellness thing that put a little pep in their step once I got things rolling for them .

My mom is spoiled rotten now--what have I created!. ;).

I just created another raised strawberry bed a couple weeks ago I'm planting as soon as the plants arrive, right out where they can easily get to it and enjoy--these will be everbearers--my dad,'s like a mouse in a candy story harvesting stuff.

Rather than getting heavy duty into organic, I start early, keep everything healthy, and often beat the pests with just attention to quality conditions. I move things around alot, to find the best conditions and for rotation--and that's at least in the ballpark of organic. The particulars of getting really involved with companion planting and so forth are just beyond me for the time being; and, the last time my brother in law called himself planting organic, it was a royal mess with terrible yield--he never lives down his gardening God love him.

Anyway, this has nothing to do with violin, huh--or time managment. But in thinking through these things, I'm creating more space for the violin queue--which I'm ready for my next 30 minutes. later. al

February 3, 2007 at 06:17 AM · Three cheers to sustenability! Three more cheers to stuffing mama and papa silly! And don't forget the tomatos and fig trees if your garden gets enough heat in the summer.

Back to mental practice.

February 3, 2007 at 07:41 AM · 200 tomato plants. no figs...

February 3, 2007 at 10:15 PM · What, no yams?


Seriously, Mr. Al, I think the word "compromise" is what you used earlier, and I think it is most appropriate. I don't always get the practicing I want done, for various reasons. If you are getting in five hours a day on a regular basis, then I don't see how cutting back for a specific amount of time takes you permanently off course.

For example, Nov/Dec are extremely busy times of year for the holiday gigs. It can be tough to get all of my practicing done. I accept the fact that I have to shelve a few of my personal practice goals for awhile, and then when things calm down, I can get back to business.

I encourage you to get with your teacher and establish the short, medium, and long term goals you want to set. She knows where you are now, and will know how to help you get to where you want to go. This is not a waste of lesson time. This is a great use of lesson time!

P.S. I can't believe a Southern farmer doesn't have yams...I had mashed steamed yams, with butter, for dinner last night. Yummie! And I am Yankee!

February 3, 2007 at 11:05 PM · Yams are for those folk truly down south. I'm a mountain farmer--much difference--white sweet potatoes. You'd curse yams if I made you up a bunch with country ribs ;)...

February 4, 2007 at 12:59 AM · I’ve just done my weekend luxurious 4½ hours of practice today and now you guys are making me really hungry. I’m craving the taro roots braised with duck with a lots of green onion, one of my grandmother's speical, a Chinese eastern coastal dish. Delicious with rice!

February 4, 2007 at 12:03 AM · mmm...nothing is better than top-notch homemade Chinese food! Mr. Al, I am sorry I didn't know any better about where yams grew. How's the garlic?!?!

February 4, 2007 at 01:34 AM · My mind just got back from Yixi's moms. Garlic is very good--out of the ground--showing off... This is my fifth year or so maintaining all the kinds, and it is very easy--though some work managing the different kinds and so forth--to do. I keep them all separate and etc., because they all have different strengths and flavors.

February 4, 2007 at 06:34 AM · I grew garlics for several years now and can't imaging summber without a bunch of them with curled tops. By the way, Al, I hope you are eating these delicious gariic stems. They are the best when the top curls twice. Cook them as you would with green beans and they just are heavenly.

February 4, 2007 at 07:54 AM · There's a world of specialties in garlic as complex as Iris.... I had read about cooking the stems and so forth, but haven't tried it yet. Your are right about one thing for sure--they are worth the effort.

I need to revisit some things about the stems and seeds though, because there was something about taking them off to make the bulbs bigger--that has slipped my mind--I have plenty of time though.

I like to just fry the garlic in olive oil and go for it to be honest--I know that's not the smartest thing to do, but it's sooo good.

February 4, 2007 at 09:32 AM · Yams! Yams are a misnomer started when a canning plant down south started marketing orange-fleshed sweet potatoes and wanted to distinguish them from the white fleshed variety. True yams grow in Africa. You can hardly find a true yam in the US, and if you do, you will know right away by the high price tag. Those orange fleshed tubers you see at the grocery store are sweet potatoes, too, no matter what they claim to be.

I like the orange ones better than the white ones. You can coat them with kosher salt and bake them until the juices start to blacken on the pan and the insides start to shrivel. They get all carmel sweet, and you can split it and dress it with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Or fresh grated nutmeg. They are one of the only vegetables that can double as a dessert.

February 4, 2007 at 03:56 PM · Emily, you are so right about the orange v. white sweet potato/yam confusion. I do live in the part of the world where every carbonated beverage is called "Coke". (smiley face)

February 4, 2007 at 03:48 PM · That's true Emily--But I'd bet a dollar to a donut that you've not had white ones straight from the garden--but living in Alaska, maybe you have.... The orange ones also have more beta-carotene.... Still...

If the orange ones are rich, and really good when done sweetened, fresh white ones are lighter, still evil-sweet and almost have a mild squash /nutty flavor going on.... Plus, the white ones, in some cases have nearly myth like stories going on with women seeking them out.

I know one elderly family member who was known to sit down with a full feast going on and stuffing herself with WSP's, as she hadn't had them in several years--that sort of thing.

February 5, 2007 at 07:11 AM · Hey. Maybe you could send me a fresh one, straight from the garden. I'll trade some Alaskan wild salmon for it, straight from the Kenai.

February 5, 2007 at 07:39 AM · oooooooo DEAL!..... I'm king of steamed salmon---it took me a long time to get it right, but now--along with baked cod I can throw down...

I'll throw in some fresh asparagus and world class garlic for that trade--4 sure!. If you're serious, remind me towards early August so the Asparagus will start it's fall flush. It'll have to be in increments though--the WSP's are quite late--I'd trust you until October though...

My violin has strings--just staying in the ballpark ;)...

February 6, 2007 at 10:01 AM · Oh, you just found my weakness: asparagus. Sometimes, it appears in the local market, all tender and young and fresh, and I buy some and take it home to be lightly sauteed in a dash of butter and olive oil, perhaps with prosciuttio and lemon. I get a craving for asparagus, and I can only get it twice a year or so. Those logs they sell as asparagus sometimes are atrocious.

I could only feasibly send you canned salmon. Not great for steaming, since it's cooked already. It makes one heck of a sandwich, or dip, or croquette, though.


February 6, 2007 at 04:02 PM · This is how I steam my salmon: put the fish in a steamer to steam till the flesh just barely cooked through (flaky), then immediately turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes with the lid on. This way, you are continuously steaming the fish but with the steamer’s own heat so you are not overcook the fish. While you are waiting, finely slice some green onion and ginger root, then drain the water out of the cooked fish and put the onion and ginger on top. Now heat up some olive oil until smoky hot and pour the oil on top of the onion covered fish. The last thing you put on is some fine soya sauce with a touch of sugar. Put on your favorite Bach sonatas and enjoy.

February 8, 2007 at 05:12 PM · Hey Albert,

You should invoke Emil Chudnovsky for some answers on this subject. In his teaching, he's always talking about time management and "efficient practice", and I think he would have some good ideas for you. In fact, I'll invoke him for you...

EMIL EMIL EMIL EMIL>.....there. That and a phone call this afternoon should do it. Stay tuned...

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